The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz
I walked over to the white cat and squatted down next to it.It looked like Kiyoko had donned a cat Halloween costume.She looked up at me and smiled as blood ran from her mouth and stained her whiskers.
“Lawson-san.So…you see me as I am…at last.”
I nodded.“But I don’t know what you are.”
“And yet you don’t seem surprised.Perhaps…” Her voice trailed off as she tried to gather the strength.“Perhaps…you are more accustomed to oddities of nature than I thought?”
I glanced around.Higashi stood by the entrance of the house, surveying the scene, a look of disbelief on his face.
I looked back at Kiyoko quickly and let my fangs extend for the briefest of moments before retracting them again.Her eyes widened and then she merely smiled.
I nodded.“I’ve seen many things but nothing like you.”
“We came from India through China and Korea many centuries ago.Japan offered us the isolation we needed.But our numbers have dwindled.Our birth rates plummeted.I never knew why.There are few of us left.The change only begins once you are older.In recent years, more of my kind started falling victim to psychotic episodes.Instead of growing into our abilities, they caused members of my race to lash out and start killing.”She looked over at the striped cat.“That is what befell Saigo.At first it was only blood that he craved.And then tonight…”Her voice trailed off.“Well, you saw the results of his handiwork.I tried to bargain with him.Help him.But he saw it as a threat and attacked me instead.”She glanced down.“And he did a marvelous job of ensuring I won’t live much longer.”
“What can I do?”
She smiled.“Let me die with dignity.I am old anyway…and should have shuffled along years ago.But I was kept here by my promise to look after Saigo.”
“What are you called?”
“Kaibyo,” said Kiyoko.“And in the case of my family line, bakeneko…shapeshifters of the cat species.Maybe you’ve heard of werewolves?”
“We were always better,” she said with a smile and a sigh.“Now…at last, my time has come.Thank you for listening.”
A paw reached out and covered my hand.It felt warm to the touch and as I looked back up, Kiyoko’s eyes rolled back and she shifted completely into the form of a cat.I watched as her body shrank to half its size, amid the pool of blood and gore, her white fur stained a dark crimson brown.
She was gone.